News from the President 4.14.17

Collecting, analyzing and quantifying data has become a pillar of strategic fundraising and nonprofit sustainability. It can save time and productivity while increasing efficiency and revenue. An organization may not have a state-of-the-art database, but it has information it can collect.  Knowing what questions it wants to answer is the key.

The Art Institute of Chicago is a case in point. They wanted to know how their visitors used the museum and where their visitors resided. One strategy was to track the paths of museum visitors through their cell phones and another was to collect their ZIP codes. The data was then used to advise the marketing team.

In one instance, the museum had the marketing team track the paths of visitors to an Edgar Degas painting on loan to measure visitor interest and numbers. They discovered people stayed twice as long in the gallery as before the Degas was there.  They also saw an 18 percent increase in the number of people moving through it and increased their promotion of the exhibit as a result.

Another marketing opportunity arose and mobilized the museum when Trip Advisor named them the world’s No. 1 museum. Using their ZIP code data, they directed more of their marketing budget beyond the Chicago area to reach people nationwide betting they might travel to the museum.  The effort paid off and helped the museum earn $1.8 million more in attendance revenue than it had anticipated that year.

Data doesn’t wag the dog but it does point the dog in the right direction.


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